I've been a firm supporter of team "I Don't Want Any Babies" in the past, but recently it seems as though I've been losing my home-field advantage. Between shopping for baby clothes and hanging out with two of my nieces for the first time in years, it was beginning to seem like my "no children" clause had a few flaws in it. Then I heard Lily Allen. Now, the only remaining question is whether I want my future 17 children to grow up and love her, or just grow up and be her.
Okay, I might be jumping ahead of myself here proclaiming my desire to have kids. I mean this is just pop music after all, right? Wait, wait—before your brain shuts itself off at the mere mention of the word "pop" (without a "power," "dream," "indie," or "noise" prefix), remember it wasn't so long ago that we were all singing along to Kelly Clarkson and the Dr. Luke-produced "Since U Been Gone." Lily Allen is pop, and her new record, Alright, Still, is already looking like it's going to be the crossover summer jam for the second year in a row, after blowing up in Europe when it was released there last July. Lily comes equipped with everything you could want in a Tiger Beat pin-up: She's fun, witty, quirky, headstrong, and very sassy. The kicker? She has what her contemporary pop-sters can only dream about: A great record under her belt. Alright, Still is solid, pulling influences from ska, calypso—even a little grime—and creating a fully conceptualized album, not just a few singles surrounded by a bunch of useless filler.
There's a reason why it seems like Allen has more articles about her than actual records sold: She is the underdog, that unlikely hero that pop music has been waiting for. She gained her fame through a grassroots MySpace campaign and she spoke out against NME, which for a 21-year-old female trying to make it as an artist in Britain is like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah asking Pitchfork not to review their albums. Plus she can rock the hell out of a pair of sneakers, which, granted, can look kind of silly (okay, really silly), but I'm in love with the idea of kids seeing that comfort can sometimes equal fashion. And hell, she has feuds with just about every British artist (even the faux-Brit Madonna), proving she can back up that pint-sized mouth of hers.
My biggest complaint about pop stars is the way they talk about their music as if it's servicing the greater good and pushing humanity into newer and better realms. Lily Allen doesn't have these ill-conceived notions, and is rather nonchalant when talking about her success. She doesn't play coy, and is candid about taboo teen topics like sex. Whereas a Britney would wrap a song entirely in metaphor, turning it into something dirtier and more sexualized than need be, Lily Allen just comes right out and says: "Oh my gosh, you must be joking me/If you think that you'll be poking me." She's the foul-mouthed big sister you always wanted, and it is this confidence that turns her into the polar "love her or hate her" act that she is. Part of me loves her for her, but the greater part of me loves her because I want to give her album to every youth I know, including my future children.